Pharmacy Voice responds to CQC concerns regarding online primary medical services and medicines safety

Today the Care Quality Commission published two inspection reports for online primary medical service providers which demonstrated that neither provider was upholding the fundamental standards of care, quality and safety that they should be.

Elizabeth Wade, Director of Policy at Pharmacy Voice has commented:

“It is positive to see that the CQC has worked with the other healthcare regulators (the General Medical Council, General Pharmaceutical Council and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) to take the necessary action to protect patients and bring to light examples of seriously poor practice with regards to online primary care services.

All providers of online primary care services must adhere to strict standards in order to ensure people receive consistently safe, high-quality and compassionate care.  Healthcare policy, practice and technology are continually evolving, at an ever more rapid pace; however, this does not mean that these standards can slip.

The issues that have been highlighted by the CQC include concerns about the authorisation of prescriptions and provision of medicines following online consultation with a doctor without adequate checks being carried out to ensure the medicines are safe and appropriate for the individuals requesting them.  Undertaking such checks is a core role for community pharmacists and their teams, and part of their day to day work in ensuring the safe and efficient supply of medicines to patients.  Community pharmacies (including those which do provide online services) do so in accordance with the GPhC’s standards for registered pharmacies and ensure that robust governance arrangements are in place to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.

Where practicable, people should always aim to present their symptoms to a GP, or their community pharmacist, in person to ensure that the right treatment is prescribed and expert advice on any prescription medication is provided.  If a patient is prescribed a new medicine, community pharmacists can also offer a more in-depth consultation, to help them better understand what it is for, and how to use it most effectively.”